Summary: first internet of things day event in Vienna was a smashing success with over 500 people attending and many talks and open source projects.
On april 9th, 2015 the Austrian open-source/open hardware research association OSDomotics (www.osdomotics.com) / IoT Austria (www.iot-austria.at / www.iot-vienna.at) organized together with several helping firms and sponsors the first Internet of things conference in Vienna at the FH-Technikum university. This conference was a part of the Global Internet of things events happening all over the world.
With over 500 visitors, three parallel tracks with talks concurrently, internatnional speakers from several different countries and about a dozend tech companies and student projects presenting at the conference floor the event was a bustling, international event where everyone interest in internet of things could mix and mingle: beardy open source nerds, interested tinkerers, tech company reps in suits to hopeful young enterpreneurs and -of course- students.
The conference was made possible by sponsors, by lots of volunteers helping out at the conference and because tech firm Lunifera sponsored the (paid) worktime of two employees, Klemens Edler and Sabrina Hopf to prepare and organize the event for around two months.
Also all of the speakers (many of them flown in from different countries) had to pay their own travel expenses.
My duty was to appear at 8:00 a.m. in the morning and assure clueless early arriving exhibitors and visitors that this is indeed the place of the conference and that Osdomotics/IoTVienna president Harald Pichler has not left the building and will have time to speak soon.
Later in the morning i helped to put the conference program, advertisment folders and business cards into paper bags for the visitors.
Soon afterward i was for the first time in my life “session chair”: The task was to be mental and physically present in a certain conference room at a certain time, greet and introduce the speakers, signal the speakers when it is time to end the speech and start the public discussion. Every speech was limited to 20 minutes talks (english or german), followed by 10 minutes time for public discussion and 10 minutes break. This session chair “work” was suprisingly easy, the only disadventage is the loss of freedom to visit other talks. On the positive side, i was forced to listen to same talks i would not have choosen to attend from the talk description alone and got new impressions.
From other conferences (like Europyhton) i was used to a more dense packed shedule without the 10 minutes break. I found the “forced” 10 minutes break after each talk very wise and can recommend it to every conference organisator: For the price of maybe one or two less talks squeezed in per day and room a conference profit by getting a remarkable better air quality during the whole day in the conference rooms and more important: it is ensured that there is a more constant flow of visitors around the exhibiting tables of student projects and sponsors - conference visitors have “official sheduled” break time between talks to, well, talk.
This is less trivial than it sounds.
I witnessed personally that often a conference speaker was after his talk and after the 10 minutes official discussion time surrounded by groups of visitors and engaged in vibrant communication.
Also a phenomen i often see at other conferences with a more dense shedule was thankfully not observed by me at the GIDE2015 Vienna: conference visitors occupying the same chair motionless for several talks in a row, somtimes building small “fortresses” with drink, food, papers and electronic devices around them. It seems to me that a break time of 10 minutes triggers the urge to move out of the room for nearly every visitor, leading to an overall much more pleasant conference experience.
I used the time around noon to borrow a video camera and make some video interviews with exhibitors, speakers and visitors. Most of them are in german language but a few are in english:
As always in tech conferences, i'm convinced that the real action does not happens at the talks, but on the conference floor between the talks, where people are able to meet, talk, connect, swap business cards and start friendships and cooperation.
My impression was that many international visitors -from central Europe and Germany- did exactly that. Some told me to be in GIDE Vienna at the first time to observe and look only but maybe next year to present a talk or an exhibition table.
I wondered that some speakers were flying in from Germany in the morning, make a speech and spend a few hours at the conference and fly back in the afternoon. I'm more used to spend a few days in a foreign city for longer conferences, but it seems that the event was worth a day trip to Vienna.
I was most impressed with the exhibition tables of various (student) projects, ranging from students building a 3D printer build out of recycled hardware to a company selling bristlebot kits to a software for electric car fuel stations. Somehow i missed to make an interview with the company Optigo about their Passive Optical Network solutions but a friend of me was very impressed by their technology.
I look forward to the next Global Internet of things event in Vienna, hopefully 2016. I can recommend participating (and helping at) the conference to everyone with the slightest interest in technology.
A more detailed blogpost in german language about this event can be found on the open everything blog.